Jeff's Favorite Movies

As of today, I've watched and rated 2,800 movies, assigning each a numerical rating 1 (a waste of life) and 10 (loved it). Of course, this rating took place over many many years and I can't claim that my ratings have been consistent over the long haul; I'm sure that my tastes have changed during this journey. But although I'd like to, I can't watch all 2,800 movies over again to try and be more consistent, so for what it's worth, here is the list of the 70-or-so movies I've rated 9 or 10, followed by the 320-or-so-next-best films I've rated as 8.

I generally favor movies that are heavy in the plot department; there are many movies which are highly regarded on the Internet Movie Database or by critics which I don't like at all. Breathless is one such example. To me, it felt like nothing happened, and I rated it a 4 (I've since re-rated it as 7, because I now better appreciate it's allure, but it's still not a favorite). Even the highly-regarded Citizen Kane falls into that category; I rated it a 7 since although it might have introduced lots of new film techniques and had many interesting perspectives, the plot itself was totally boring to me. I didn't ever really care what "Rosebud" meant, so the rest of the film's goodness was lost on me. So those are two movies that don't quite make it onto my list of favorite movies. If you strongly disagree with both of these non-recommendations, you might as well stop reading here because my tastes don't align with yours. But if you tentatively agree, keep reading.

To rate a movie highly (that is, rate it as if I'd really enjoy watching it again, which is what my rating of 8 means), it has to have at least one of the following: a great plot, gorgeous photography, be a musical, contain beautiful music such as the way Kubrick used music, be a great science-fiction movie, or include anything about Italy, or especially Rome, for which I'm a total slut. I'm not at all adverse to non-American films; many of my 300-or-so-next-best films are black-and-white subtitled films. So if you're still reading and these things also tickle your fancy, here are my favorite 300-or-so movies out of the 2,319 I've watched.

I welcome you to email with any comments on my choices.

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My Favorite 60 or so Movies, listed alphabetically

  1. Koyaanisqatsi: A 90-minute-long music video of time lapse fast motion and extreme slow motion photography with themes of nature, man, and the conflict between them. Accomanied by a Philip Glass score. Highly recommended.

In case you agree with my list of favorite movies, here are my 300-or-so-next-best films that you might also enjoy, again listed alphabetically
(The best 34 in this bunch are in bold font)

  1. Baraka: Second installment of the art-film trilogy of Chronos and Baraka and Samsara (below), successors to Koyaanisqatsi (one of my top-60). Baraka and Samsara are very similar; Baraka has perhaps more incredibly beautiful scenes; Samsara has perhaps more of a message and is technically better.
  2. Countdown to Zero: A sensible and sobering documentary urging the reduction in nuclear weapons.
  3. (subtitled) Daguerreotypes: The lives of the shopkeepers along the Rue Daguerre, in Paris, where the filmmaker, Agnes Varda, lived
  4. The 11th hour: A documentary about global warming.
  5. (subtitled) A Film Unfinished
  6. Finding Vivian Maier: A woman's lifelong street photography is discovered after her death.
  7. Forks Over Knives: Meat, Dairy and Heart Disease
  8. An Inconvenient Truth: The facts of climate change, and what we don't want to do to repair it.
  9. Man With a Movie Camera: This 1929 silent film is shot by a man wandering around Moscow for a day, contrasting man and machine as he goes. He frequently appears in the film. If you enjoy Koyaanisqatsi, I think you'll enjoy this film, made 53 years earlier but foreshadowing the themes and techniques used in that movie.
  10. My Voyage to Italy: An exposition, by Martin Scorsese, to the Italian films which influenced him and which he loves.
  11. My Winnipeg: Extremely funny pseudo-documentary about the director’s home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and his understanding of the people there, his family when he was growing up, the hockey and how it was destroyed by the evil NHL, and the heroic woman who will restore Winnipeg to its rightful past glory once again.
  12. (subtitled) Nuit et brouillard (Night and Fog): Half-hour sobering holocaust documentary about the Nazi death camps, told by narration over high impact photos and videos of the actual camps
  13. (subtitled) Our Body: Follows doctors and patients at a gynecology ward in France as they deal with abortion, gender transition, help with pregnancy, IVF, natural childbirth, cesarian birth of twins, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, menopause.
  14. Particle Fever
  15. Project Nim
  16. Samsara: Beautiful third installment of the art-film trilogy of Chronos and Baraka (above) and Samsara, successors to Koyaanisqatsi (one of my top-60). Baraka and Samsara are very similar; Baraka has perhaps more incredibly beautiful scenes; Samsara has perhaps more of a message and is technically better.
  17. (subtitled) Shoah: 9-hour documentary about the Holocaust, told through interviews with witnesses, survivors and perpetrators.
  18. They Shall Not Grow Old: Stunning documentary made from authentic restored WWI footage with real WWI soldier voice-overs. Trench warfare, the terrible daily life of British soldiers in the war, kids put into an impossible situation, sympathy toward the enemy who also wanted nothing to do with this, the inability of civilians to understand what happened, the list of things this movie is "about" is silly to try to enumerate since there’s just so much in this movie that there is no substitute for watching the movie.
  19. (subtitled) Triumph of the Will: Well described as ‘The infamous propaganda film of the 1934 Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg’, this chilling documentary of actual footage of a week-long rally of the Nazi party just after Hitler consolidated his control over the entire German state shows what Hitler wanted the German people to see in order to gain more support. It’s a well made film showing the beginnings of an incredibly evil group of leaders who were responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of human beings.
  20. Wayne Shorter Zero Gravity: Superb documentary about the life and music of jazz saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter

And finally, a few TV series which I've especially enjoyed, again in alphabetical order

  1. One Strange Rock
  2. The Windsors - Inside the Royal Dynasty: Very good CNN historical documentary series about the Windsor family, the British Royal Family who changed their name to The Windor Family after WWI, and rules, under QEII, to the present, with Charles, William and George waiting in the wings. Great companion to The Crown, which dramatizes the history of this family.

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